Rumbling behind national tragedy and gun amnesties, Serbia-Kosovo normalization talks continued in mid-May—with more frustration and this hinging on the eventual establishment (or not) of the Community of Serb Municipalities (CSM).
To be clear, this concept is now referred to as the Association of Serb Municipalities, but it remains a key point in normalization talks, as the Serbian government, as well as Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, have pointed to said community failing to be established even those this was agreed upon back in 2013.
This week European Union Special Representative for the Kosovo-Serbia Miroslav Lajcak, met with Kosovo Chief Negotiator for Dialogue Besnik Bislimi, as well as with Serbia’s Petar Petkovic, with the outcome of the meeting apparently being that no point in the previously discussed agreement and articles of implementation is conditional.
“In the agreement we reached in Ohrid, it is clearly stated that none of the articles can condition other articles and that all articles will be implemented independently,” Lajcak said, as cited by Euroactive. “Also, it is said that neither party will block the implementation of any specific article.”
In short, sign off on the agreement whether the CSM is agreed upon or not.
Yet this very unlikely, as when it comes to normalization talks Serbia has consistently drawn two red lines in the sand. First, it will not recognize Kosovo is such a fashion that it would be recognized as an independent state (i.e. by the United Nations) and second (or possibly first) that the CSM must be created.
And if there was any question as to whether Serbia was sticking to its guns, the country voted against Kosovo’s membership in the Council of Europe April 24.
Which brings to light still other questions, such as: Is the EU-brokered deal a deal? And: Are current talks negotiations when points are supposedly independent of each other and thus non-negotiable.
With regard to the first, there is not sign-off on anything, and talk of a “gentleman’s agreement” would appear to ignore a history of occasionally very non-gentlemanly behavior by all sides (including the EU). With regard to the second, well… no.
Finally, finger pointing, if it must happen, should be multi-directional, as perhaps glossed over was a decision by Kosovo’s Minister of Administration and Local Government Elbert Krasniqi, to fire the team mandated with drafting the CSM statute that would serve as the framework for a Serb municipality to begin with.
Or Krasniqi put it this way: “This team is now itself without status.”
To be far, this move drew the ire of the EU as well, although Brussels representatives immediately committed themselves (and everyone else) to further talks.
Which is something.
Photo by SummaryDescriptionMiroslav Lajcak (2016) (cropped).jpgInformal Meeting of Foreign Affairs Ministers – GYMNICHEuropean External Action Service, Mrs. Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice President of the Commission and Mr. Miroslav Lajcak, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of Slovak Republicph halime sarragDate3 September 2016, 11:54SourcePRESS CONFERENCE 2016-09-03 Informal Meeting of Foreign Affairs Ministers – GYMNICHAuthorEU2016 SKEU2016 SK, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons.